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Broadwalk lies alongside (and overlooks) the Pavilion Gardens. Mr. Punch's earliest roots date back to the wandering Commedia dell' Arte troupes of 14th century Italy. Pulcinella, a hook-nosed, cowardly buffoon, was a popular character in the comic plays of these actors. During succeeding centuries, Commedia plays spread to France and then England. There the Pulcinella character merged with British glove puppet traditions to become Punchinello, or Mr. Punch. Punch acquired a wife (originally known as Joan), and by the end of the late 17th century, the Punch and Judy show was firmly ensconced in the annals of tradition. In May of 1662 at London's Covent Garden, the famed diarist Samuel Pepys observed a Punch & Judy Show performed by an Italian Punchman named Signor Bologna. Pepys described the event in his diary: '...an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty, the best that I ever saw, and great resort of gallants.' This event is considered the first written record of a Punch and Judy performance. A plaque in Covent Garden commemorates the event and can be seen today. By the mid-1800s, the Punch and Judy Show had entered its Golden Age. Nomadic Punchmen performed at country fairs, seaside resorts, family parlors and the streets of London. Audiences included poor people of the streets, as well as the rich and fashionable upper crust. Several writers of this era paid homage to Mr. Punch. In the 1840s, Henry Mayhew interviewed an itinerant Punch performer and published the result in Mayhew's enormous work, London Labour and the London Poor. The interview offers a wealth of insight into the culture of 19th century Punch performers. Many of these performers came from three or four generations of Punchmen. Tradition was of the utmost importance to these puppeteers; they even developed their own language. Payne Collier was another writer enamored with Mr. Punch's antics. He transcribed a Punch performance and published the account (which, according to modern Punch performers, is somewhat lacking in accuracy.) George Cruikshank illustrated Collier's text. This book is the first published transcription of a Punch and Judy script. Cruikshank's illustrations have become classics. Charles Dickens was also a great admirer of the Punch and Judy Show. Mr. Punch is frequently mentioned in his novels. One work, The Old Curiosity Shop, seems to be based almost entirely on the Punch tradition. Tastes and times change, but the Punch tradition has survived through many centuries. Today the Punch and Judy Show is experiencing a revival in Britain and the United States. (information from www.punchandjudyworld.org) See also image DCBM200815 and DCBM100525.